The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives posted a proposed rule change Friday removing a previous exemption and banning the manufacture, import and sale of “5.56 mm (.223) SS109 and M855 ‘green tip’ ammunition containing a steel core,” saying it now considers it to be “non-sporting” handgun ammunition capable of penetrating protective vests worn by law enforcement officers. This latest development, ceding to law enforcement lobby interests, is prompted by the development of handguns capable of firing the cited ammunition.
“In a move clearly intended by the Obama Administration to suppress the acquisition, ownership and use of AR-15s and other .223 caliber general purpose rifles, [ATF] unexpectedly announced … that it intends to ban commonplace M855 ball ammunition as ‘armor piercing ammunition,” the National Rifle Association weighed in. “The decision continues Obama’s use of his executive authority to impose gun control restrictions and bypass Congress.
Elimination of the exemption would “make future exemptions nearly impossible,” NRA explained, further disputing the proposal by claiming the subject ammunition “does not, however, have a core made of the metals listed in the law; rather, it has a traditional lead core with a steel tip, and therefore should never have been considered ‘armor piercing.’”
Real-world justifications for proposing the change at this time have not been offered, and it appears the fear, if it actually exists, is over something ATF cautions might happen, as opposed to the proposal being a response to a credible threat. A 30-year review of “Injuries to Law Enforcement Officers Shot Wearing Personal Body Armor” published by The International Association of Chiefs of Police admits “Despite data to suggest the potential for injury, there are no large studies describing injuries sustained while wearing vests.”